Hello Ladies & Gents,

How are we? I hope you're well. 

I was going to use this blog to talk about Mrs Rich opening, what it is to be an understudy and all that, but I didn’t really think this was the right time so I will do that when I next write. Sorry. Instead I wanted to do a blog about being a company of actors, an ensemble, and what that actually means after what have been a few interesting days here in Stratford-upon-Avon.

We all met in December. A few people had pre-existing relationships but not many. That was only four months ago. Not a particularly long time. We will stop seeing each other daily in August (for Malfi) and June (for Mrs Rich) so as an ensemble, we will have known each other on and off for eight months and six-and-a-half months respectively. In the grand scheme of life, that isn’t a particularly long time, I am sure you’d agree.

We go through journeys together and those journeys bind you. No matter if you’re a seasoned veteran actor with decades of experience at the highest level or a graduate only a few months out of drama school, you come together for that period of time. The same collective. The same ensemble. You serve a role in your ensemble. You have each other’s backs, you recognise when a peer needs some love, support, quiet time, help, energy – whatever. Just like a family.

Last week, our family here took a hit when one reviewer decided to make some hurtful, inappropriate and negative statements about one of us. This has been addressed appropriately by Gregory Doran, Erica Whyman, Equity and more. You can explore that to your heart's content elsewhere. I don’t want to give the person in question any acknowledgement and I don’t think it’s my place to say exactly how I feel so my wording here is not perhaps the wording I would use in ‘The Duck’ (I want to work here again!) – I hope you understand.

The cast of The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich dance in full costume.
The cast of The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich.
Photo by Helen Maybanks © RSC Browse and license our images

Anyway, the words used in a review of Mrs Rich were blatantly designed to create upset and pain but I would like to use this blog to let you know how we reacted and how proud I am to be part of this ensemble. We came together, we rallied, we shared and it was amazing to be a part of. Speeches being made. Emails sent. Lots of love, support, positivity, resilience and even more defiance. Defiance in the face of sensationalism and negativity. Defiance in the face of an abhorrent agenda trying to divide, which instead just brought everyone closer. What was even more beautiful was the reaction across the entire theatre world. It was almost inspiring at points. I was so proud to be an actor as this was all happening and even prouder to be part of this company and ensemble. We came together as one to support each other and this is exactly how you fight back. It was done with professionalism, dignity, respect and love, and that has been led by Mr Wringer – the personification of class. “Respect my baby”.

In a Q&A once at York Theatre Royal, I said about being an actor that ‘you have lots of acquaintances but not many friends’. I was wrong to say that and I really regret it. Sometimes you don’t see your family members for a while but you know if you call them, they will be there. I have made some friends here in this ensemble and I have learnt from them over the last few months but particularly these last few days and I would like to use this wee platform to thank them all. It’s been a pleasure.

Now let’s go back to kicking some heavy-duty booty and bringing people together, like good theatre does.

And let me tell you as a potential audience member – you don’t know how much that will impact the show. It makes it warmer, more fun, more dangerous (which theatre should be) and ultimately more entertaining.

___

On a side note – I am running the London Marathon on 22 April for the National Deaf Children’s Society. If you would like to sponsor me for doing this ridiculous thing you can do so on my website.

Thanks ever so much.

Love,

G. x

Graeme Brookes

Graeme Brookes

Graeme Brookes has been an actor for 13 years. This is his debut season with the RSC. He is a native of the Black Country, supports Walsall FC, likes Vimto and Pick & Mix. Follow Graeme on Twitter @Mr_Brookes04

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